Soft and squidgy homemade paneer for curries, paratha fillings, chilli paneer, samosas and more. This simple recipe includes tips for making fresh paneer that tastes like it just came from the dairywala.
2.5Lfull-fat milk (at least 3% fat)Note that ultra-filtered milk isn't suitable for making cheese
1/4tspany flavourless oilto grease the base of the pan
In a bowl or jug, mix together the lemon juice and water.
Use a kitchen towel dipped in oil to grease the base of the pan. This will stop the milk from burning on the bottom.
Pour the milk into the pan and heat over a medium flame. Don't stir the milk too much as we don't want to create too much froth. Don't leave the milk unattended, it can boil over quite quickly. Once the milk comes to a boil, switch the heat off.
Slowly add the lemon and water mixture and stir the milk very gently to disperse. Imagine gently drawing a figure of eight in the pan. If the milk isn't curdling, add more of the lemon and water mixture until it does.
You'll know the paneer is ready when the curds look like little white clouds floating the a yellow/green-ish water (this is the whey).
Line a colander or sieve with a clean muslin or cheesecloth. You can wet the cloth if isn't sitting in the colander well. Place the colander over a large bowl to catch the drained whey.
Pour the mixture into the colander and allow the whey to drain out.
Next, transfer the bundle of drained curds (along with the muslin) into a bowl while you pour the whey into another bowl or simply swap it with another bowl.
The curds now need to be washed to remove any excess acidic flavour. Pour plenty of warm water over the cheese and agitate with a spoon to wash away the sourness. I use around 1L water for this process.
Once washed, dissolve the salt in another 500ml warm water and pour this over the curds to season it. This step is optional. Mix it well.
Wrap the muslin over the top of the curds, as flat as you can get it. Press gently with your hands to drain off excess water.
Place a flat plate over the top and weigh the curds down with something heavy (like a few tins of beans, a mortar or books) to drain off remaining water and lightly set the paneer. The heavier the weight you apply, the firmer set your paneer will be. I like to apply a light weight at this point so that I can mould it properly later.
After an hour, the paneer is ready to use. It may be slightly crumbly. If you prefer a firmer set for cubing and slicing, either set in the fridge overnight or do as I do and mould it in a dish, tin or bowl with more pressing.
Optional step for moulding the paneer:
Transfer the lightly-set paneer to a small tin or ceramic/glass dish, about 12cm wide. Keep it in the muslin/cheesecloth for easier unmoulding later. Press the paneer in with the back of a spoon. It doesn't matter of it breaks and crumbles as you'll be pressing it again shortly. Wrap the paneer up with the muslin and apply more pressure with a plate and weight.
Pop the whole thing, plate and weight included in the fridge overnight to set. The next day your block of fresh paneer will be ready to cube and slice for all your favourite paneer recipes.
My preference is to use lemon juice to curdle the milk. This can be either fresh or bottled lemon juice.
You can also use vinegar, citric acid, yoghurt or even leftover whey from a previous batch of paneer to curdle the milk. For 2.5L milk you'll need the following quantities of each:
2 tbsp white vinegar mixed with 250ml water
1 tsp citric acid mixed with 250ml water
100g sour natural yoghurt whisked with 2 tbsp water